Gear shift problems are common for the Honda Civic, no matter what year it was manufactured. Not being able to get the car out of park is not only an inconvenience, but it also renders the vehicle almost useless.
If your Honda Civic won’t shift or is stuck in park/drive/neutral, it’s best to go from the easiest to the most challenging solutions. Start by checking fuses, brake lights, and shift lever functions. Then, move on to more complicated procedures using voltmeters and scanners to find the problem.
In this troubleshooting guide, I’ll provide you with the steps necessary to find the causes for the shift lever not working correctly. You’ll also have a logical progression for making the process as simple as possible. Last, I’ll give you some guidance on how to access the different systems and the procedures for getting you back on the road again.
Honda Civic Won’t Get Out of Park
When diagnosing difficulties with gear shifting, it is best to start with the most straightforward solutions and work toward the more complicated ones. Here are the steps to take for troubleshooting shifting issues on the Honda Civic.
Check the Fuse Going to the Brake Lights
The shifter on your Civic has electrical wiring that runs on the same circuit as the brake light system. The simplest way to ensure there is power going to both systems is to check the circuit breaker.
You can do this by opening the circuit breaker panel on the dashboard’s upper left-hand corner adjacent to the steering wheel. You will need to determine which breaker corresponds to the brake lights.
Once you determine the right one, pull the breaker and inspect it. If it is broken, the circuit will be open, and there will be no power available to the gear shifter to release it. Change the circuit breaker using the same rating as the old one being careful to push it fully into the slot.
Try to use the gear shift lever. If it still doesn’t move, proceed to the next step.
Check To Make Sure the Brake Lights Are Working
If they come on when you press the brake pedal, move on to step 3. If the brake lights don’t come on, check the brake light switch and replace it if necessary. Go to the next step if this does not solve the problem.
Honda Civic Won’t Shift Out of Drive
If the Shifter Button Does Not Depress, Check if It Is Broken
You should be able to push the shifter button into the shifter knob while applying the brakes. If it is stuck or you can’t move the knob while the button is all the way in, you may have to replace the switch or even the whole knob assembly. Take these steps to check it:
Copyright protected article by Know My Auto and was first published on Jan 30, 2021. .
- Remove the retainer screw. The retainer screw usually has a Phillips’s head and is located near the bottom of the shifter knob, driver’s side.
- Gently lift the knob off the shifter. Be careful not to lose any parts within the shifter knob assembly. There may be some broken pieces, also.
- Replace the button. Either replace the controller or the whole knob assembly.
Most of the time, if the button is jammed, this solution will work. If it doesn’t, or you can depress the knob, and it still won’t shift, go to step 4.
Check the Wiring for Open Circuits
This step involves opening the center shifter console and inspecting all electrical wiring routed to the interlock solenoid and neutral safety switch. Make sure all the connections are stable and there is no wiring that is shorted out. If everything looks good, move to the next step.
Honda Civic Not Shifting Into Overdrive
Check the Interlock Solenoid
When it has power to it, the interlock solenoid allows the shifter to be released when the brakes are applied. It is located under the center console, forward section, driver’s side.
Check the solenoid by pressing the brake pedal intermittently. If it is working correctly, the plunger will move back and forth. If it doesn’t, follow these steps to check power to the solenoid:
- Remove the electrical connector to the solenoid.
- Step on the brake pedal.
- With a voltmeter, check that there is a current of 12 volts from the battery to the electrical connector.
- If there is no power to the connector, the brake light switch is faulty and needs to be replaced.
If there is power to the connector, replace the solenoid. If the solenoid is operational, proceed to the next step.
Check the Engine Control Unit (ECU)
The ECU controls a wide array of systems on the vehicle, including:
- Electrical system
- Fuel system
Sometimes, if the ECU is faulty, it will not allow power to the interlock solenoid, preventing you from shifting the vehicle from park to drive. The unit is located under the dashboard, passenger side near the glove compartment.
Follow these steps to check the ECU:
- Visual inspection of the wiring. Check the wiring and connectors for signs of damage. Also, check the ECU pins and make sure they are not bent and in an upright position. Last, notice if there is a burnt smell to the unit. If there is, that means there could be internal damage, and the unit will have to be replaced.
- Inspect the circuit board. Open the unit and check the boards and wiring for any damage.
- Use a diagnostic scanner. A good example is the MOTOPOWER MP69033 Car OBD2 Scanner. An indication that the ECU is faulty is if you get a U1000 Code or multiple source codes without any obvious symptoms.
Honda Civic Stuck in Neutral
Check the Neutral Safety Switch
The primary purpose of the neutral safety switch (NSS) is to prevent the vehicle from starting while in drive or reverse. Here are the signs that the NSS is defective:
- The car doesn’t start in park or neutral
- It starts in all gears
- It prevents the vehicle from shifting properly
Before accessing the NSS, it is a good idea to check that the cable going to the mechanical lever is not over-stretched. If it is, it could prevent the vehicle from shifting properly.
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To check the cable, you need to see if the gear selector light on the dashboard matches the gear selector setting.
For example, if the gear selector is in park and the dash light shows it’s in drive, the NSS cable is probably faulty.
If the cable checks out, replace the NSS, which is located at the transmission housing on the driver’s side. You will have to remove the left front tire to access it. The unit is protected by a metal cover attached by two bolts. You will need to remove it to gain access to the NSS.
Honda Civic Won’t Shift Gears
If you want to bypass the lockout feature and have the ability to move the shift lever out of park, you can. Some models may be equipped with a manual shift lock release located at the forward left-hand corner of the center console.
It lets you manually release the shift lever with a screwdriver or special key so you can move it out of the park position into drive. Be aware that this may be a difficult task while driving. So, it is best to stop the vehicle before attempting to engage the bypass feature.
Keep in mind that this is only a temporary measure, so you can drive the car until a qualified mechanic can diagnose the problem for you.
KnowMyAuto is the sole owner of this article was published on Jan 30, 2021 and last updated on .